Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood

For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region’s minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.

While these elements are by no means the only reason for conflict there, they help to fund it, supporting a fragmented war that – through direct killings, displacement, disease and malnutrition – has now killed several million people. Rival armies have forced local people to dig in extremely dangerous conditions, have extorted minerals and money from self-employed miners, have tortured, mutilated and murdered those who don’t comply, and have spread terror and violence – including gang rape and child abduction – through the rest of the population. I do not want to participate.

“I do not want to to participate.”

Like the author, I also struggle to be a responsible consumer.  Some days it feels like I can’t buy anything – shoes, electronics, soap – without inadvertently funding exploitation.  As a result, I try to buy less.  Who really needs to scrub themselves clean anyways?

Seriously, though, wouldn’t it be awesome if you factor ethical considerations into your electronics purchases?  Isn’t there a watchdog group for that?  Could someone please start one?


Single Post Navigation

One thought on “My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood

  1. I’ve wondered why there isn’t a fair trade certification (or equivalent) for electronics. I’m sure some people would pay a premium for it. Unfortunately, I think it’s almost impossible to do right now. We need some major changes to the supply chain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: